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Tory Burch: Trust your instincts
Age: 43
Co-founder and creative director, Tory Burch

When I started my company, many people said I shouldn't launch it as a retail concept because it was too big a risk. They told me to launch as a wholesaler to test the waters -- because that was the traditional way. But Glen Senk, the CEO of Urban Outfitters and a mentor of mine who now sits on our board, told me to follow my instincts and take the risk. I wanted to create a new way of looking at retail. At the time a lot of stores were very minimalist, very clean. I wanted stores that would feel like a comfortable room in my apartment, cozy and colorful and different.

Part of my vision came out of my experience at Ralph Lauren. When I worked there, first in public relations and then in advertising as a copywriter, I learned the importance of having a complete vision for the company, from product to marketing to store visuals. My company is an extension of me, so when I designed my stores I wanted people to feel that they were in my home. It was also something that came out of my trying to design things that I wanted myself. Everything was thought out, from the music to the candles to the couches and, of course, to the product. It gave people an idea of who we were, and it was great for quicker branding.

--Interview by Eugenia Levenson

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Last updated July 08 2009: 2:26 PM ET
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